2019 Hackathon @ Photobook Worldwide

by Ped Rahmati

The Setup

    At Photobook, we have no shortage of ideas, nor any shortage of new challenges and opportunities. But sometimes, it helps to focus our energies collaboratively in order to convince ourselves that our crazy ideas have merit, and solve an important challenge. Thus was born the idea of a hackathon.
    We decided to keep this an internal hackathon, as it was our first attempt, but to open it up to the entire company, not just participants from our tech teams. Our theme was "reduce customer friction," in other words: make it easier for our users to achieve their desired outcome on our site and/or mobile apps.

    Mike, our Director of Software Architecture, took the lead on organizing and advocating this hackathon, and he, along with two other department managers (Sim and Galal) and I, would serve to judge the participants along five criteria:
    • User Experience / Design
    • Innovation / Creativity
    • Relevance / Fit to Theme
    • Prototype Scope and Level of Completion
    • Demo / Pitch

    Prizes would be given to each individual on the top two teams, and everyone would receive a hackathon-designed T-shirt (shout out to our creative team for a great design).

    The clock would start ticking at 9AM on Friday, and would stop at noon on Saturday, which is when the presentations would begin.

    So how did it go?

      We had 6 teams participate, each with 3 or 4 people, most from tech but some from product and marketing too.


      Anil, Cadence, and Wei Yiing joined forces to study how we presented information and options to different types of users (new vs returning vs purchasers vs ...). They focused on the typical first touch-point in our web presence: the homepage, and how dynamically activated, positioned, and populated controls could improve the user journey for these groups.


      Afiq, Adli, Danish, and Mahika demonstrated a mobile prototype that would give users the option to select photos first, after which the app would display eligible product for them to select. The idea is geared towards newer users who may not know what types of products (beyond photobooks) we offer, nor what the restrictions (minimums, maximums) on number of photographs are for these products.


      Akmal, Azri, Dali, and Dony collaborated on a rules based assistant (think "clippy," but not annoying nor interruptive). Given the compact nature of native mobile apps, and the complexity in all the options our users have to customize their items, there are certain types of users who would benefit tremendously from some form of information and instruction at their fingertips.

      Honda Lagenda R15

      Afiq, Hatim, Ikram, and Panji got together to build and demonstrate a new product information / pricing / configuration page, taking 2-3 steps in our current process and combining them into one, with attractive options to guide users to "most popular" or "promoted" options, while showing real-time effects on pricing. As with any ecommerce UX, generically, the less steps the better, and the clearer the journey the better.

      Tukang Kod

      Alvin, Cumba, Fikri, and Salman delivered a two-pronged demo, on one end focusing on voucher redemption, allowing the users to avoid disappointment (of mismatched vouchers / products) by starting with the code and driving the user to edit the appropriate product for that code; and on the other end utilizing image recognition and categorization to suggest relevant templates, reducing the time needed to select the right one.

      Two and a Half Men

      Afiq (yes we have 3), Alladin, and Leo worked on a functional demo of a brand new user journey that enables users to print our new "lil' photobooks" collaboratively from instagram pictures with minimal pain. They also allow for users to be assigned to projects, so the pictures shared in the book are from folks you know, not random strangers.

      So who won?

      All in all, I believe we have 6 viable projects to consider for upcoming roadmap. I know all the judges and participants would agree this was a great outcome, and I can't wait to do it again.

      Runner up team: Cookies! They each received a Garmin Vivosmart 3 Sport Watch (Danish, we're holding yours for when you return from vacation).

      In their own words:
      Project Title: For You Album
      Aim: Providing a customer-first experience by minimizing the number of steps to explore different products offered

      • Display a page of curated album(s) for the user on the PB App.
      • Albums are crafted from the user's photo library and categorized / grouped based on locations / dates / events.
      • The app will then suggest suitable products to the user based on the number of photos selected.
      • Another added feature is for the app to suggest products that almost meet the minimum photo requirement. For e.g:
      • Lets say user selected 12 photos and decided to make photo prints out of it.
      • The app will suggest "With another 9 photos you could create a simplebook"
      • The concept is not only about suggesting the products users should buy, but to be able to curate and group albums for users in the first place, hence For You Album.

      And the winning team: Two and a Half Men! Each taking home a PS4!

      In their own words:
      PB-Insta - new PB feature to use Instagram as a sharing platform for customers to create collaboration or personal projects without the hassle of using online designer or other apps.

      Why Instagram
      • Some statistics (September 2018):
      • Total Number of Monthly Active Instagram Users: 1 billion.
      • Total Number of Daily Active Instagram Users: 500 million.
      • Number of Photos Shared to Date: 50 billion.
      • Number of Photos & Videos uploaded per day: 100 million+.
      • Instagram already provides some image filters.
      • Instagram provides good enough resolution: 1080 pixels.
      • Instagram photos have been posted by their users only after selecting the best out of dozens or hundreds of pictures in his/her phone (skipping the phone photos selection and beautifying process).

      Best suitable product
      Square lil’ photobook

      Main features
      • Collaboration project
      • How it works: using unique hashtag as the identifier to get the photos to use in the project
        1. User goes to Photobook platform to create a project which will generate a unique hashtag
        2. Unique hashtag created, user can share this hashtag to the collaborators
        3. After all photos are uploaded with the hashtag, user can go back to project page, select the photos, and submit order (pdf will be generated)

      • Personal project
      • How it works: user will be able to select his/her photos (by hashtag is possible), sorted by number of likes and comments
        1. User goes to Photobook platform and log in using Instagram (to get permissions to access user’s photos)
        2. Select the photos
        3. Submit order

      Two and a half men

      Two and a half men

      Two and a half men

      The Last Word

      The real winners are our users, who will benefit greatly when these 6 ideas materialize into features for them to use. My thanks to everyone who participated, to the judges, and to Mike Kow who organized and coordinated a great event.